From policy to reality
12 January, 2008 – Teaching history in Dzongkha … this is one of the current dilemmas facing our school system. It needs to be debated and distilled into a good teaching initiative, not just to make Dzongkha work as a language of instruction, but as an example of how to implement policy decisions that are made by parliament.
The history books for Class VII were translated into Dzongkha and introduced in 2006 and for Class VIII in 2007. We know, through experience, that history teachers have not been able to teach the subject because their Dzongkha is not up to it and Dzongkha teachers are not trained to teach history. In the bargain, it has become the most difficult subject for both students and teachers.We understand now that the translation was done in a rush, the teachers were not prepared, so the initiative did not work. The reason, we hear, was political pressure, with the National Assembly coming on strong from a Dzongkha development point of view. Assembly members wanted to know why our children had to learn our own history in a foreign language.
So we step back and take stock of the situation, not to justify our mistakes but to learn from hindsight. It is good that the Education Ministry, the Dzongkha Development Authority, and the Royal University of Bhutan are working together as the problem appears to have been created because there was not wide enough discourse in the past. We would also benefit from experiences around the world where education systems have been developed in many languages.
Parliament is going to continue making policy decisions and demand their implementation. Just as parliament is required to make policy decisions through good debate, having considered all options and angles, implementation is expected to be professional, based on the knowledge and skills of those doing the work.
Nobody would dispute the need to development Dzongkha and to “Bhutanise” the education system as far as it truly works. And we now look forward to seeing the policy to teach more subjects in Dzongkha work, using past experience as a lesson.
Our parliamentary decisions of the future will, hopefully, be good. Now that university graduates have been given the privilege of representing us in parliament, the least we expect is that they come up with reasoned discourse and decisions. There will be formal opposition in parliament to ensure that policies are not crafted to please vote banks but to benefit those who need goods and services.
And there is the Golden Throne as a reminder that we are all there to serve the people.
Once parliament adopts a policy, the executive is expected to implement it, not for short-term benefits and commendation but to make the policy work. We have the most professional team of bureaucrats that Bhutan has ever had and we expect that they will perform at a new level of professionalism.
All in all, we have much to hope for as the new year brings in this exciting new government structure.
The limits of my language mean limits of my word
Source: Kuensel Editorial